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Former Las Vegas Outlaws QB impressed by second coming of XFL

If one were to summarize Ryan Clement’s reaction to this new XFL in three words, they probably would be these:

He Watch Me.

Clement was the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas Outlaws of XFL I in 2001, when one of his chief responsibilities was handing off to a running back named Rod Smart — better known as “He Hate Me” for the cryptic message he wore on his jersey rather than his surname.

Smart became the poster child for the short-lived league. Clement, who played in college for the vaunted Miami Hurricanes, went on to become a lobbyist for the legal marijuana industry. He insists that one was not an internship for the other.

Clement was more than a casual observer of the XFL’s reinvention that began last week.

“The XFL made a great return,” he said. “Forty million Americans want football year-round, and this rendition did not disappoint.”

Well, at least three of the four games did not disappoint. Clement texted that he did not think the St. Louis BattleHawks’ 15-9 victory over the Dallas Renegades lived up to expectations, which were minimal.

But in general, “it was fun to watch,” Clement said.

“Unlike the previous XFL, there were no ridiculous shots of cheerleaders in the stands, or commercials with double-entendres. But the innovative pieces, like being able to hear the play call and watching it play out on TV, is something the NFL should pay attention to.

“Go new XFL. Keep us watching.”

Therein lies the rub.

While the first weekend was well-watched — the four games averaged 3.12 million viewers and a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 — last year’s Alliance of American Football opened to strong viewership as well before going bankrupt after eight weeks.

New chance for Pumphrey

A check of the eight XFL rosters did not turn up any former UNLV players, but one with Las Vegas ties is keeping his pro football dream alive with the DC Defenders.

Donnel Pumphrey, a former Gatorade Player of the Year at Canyon Springs High who set the NCAA record for career rushing yards at San Diego State, rushed 12 times for 52 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards in a 27-0 victory over the New York Guardians on Feb. 8.

Pumphrey received a Super Bowl ring with the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, but did not play a down during his rookie season after tearing a hamstring in a September practice.

Around the horn

— Politics in NASCAR are becoming a bigger obstacle than a rookie driver in the lead draft.

Additional security has been added for President Donald Trump’s visit to the Daytona 500 on Sunday, and Thursday’s hauler parade on the Las Vegas Strip ahead of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been moved from 6 p.m. to 5:30 to accommodate Vice President Mike Pence’s visit.

Reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Busch of Las Vegas said if the president is coming to Daytona with a White House invitation, he’d happily accept.

“I met the last one,” he said about visiting Barack Obama after winning his first Cup championship in 2015. “I wouldn’t mind meeting this one. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are. It’s just a matter of being able to go and have the celebration and the accolades of winning a championship.”

— Paul Sewald agrees that records are made to be broken, especially this one he set with the New York Mets: Pitching in 118 major league games before picking up his first win during the final week of the 2019 season.

“It’s the least important stat for a reliever,” the former Bishop Gorman High star said during a workout at Las Vegas Ballpark before reporting to spring training with the Mets’ pitchers and catchers. “But it’s better to be 1-14 than zero and 14.”

— Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of the death of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. What millennials should know: The Rebels were 509-105 under Tark, went to four Final Fours and won the 1990 NCAA championship. And that when he was coach, you could have scalped a ticket for the UC Santa Barbara game for a couple hundred bucks.

0:01

Tarkanian, on the NCAA’s double standard on rules enforcement: “The NCAA was so mad at Kentucky they gave Cleveland State two more years of probation.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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